Wondering what the difference between the abortion pill and Plan B is? Not sure if it’s too late to take Plan B? Want to know what to expect after taking it? Concerned that taking Plan B will affect your long-term fertility? You’re not alone.
We’ve been getting a lot of questions about Plan B lately, so we asked our founder, Kirsten, to weigh in. Watch her four-minute video below to hear it from the horse’s mouth (in this case, the horse is a women’s health expert) or scroll down for the text version based on her responses.
Kirsten’s Plan B insights, typed out for your convenience:
Imagine this: it's a Friday or Saturday night and after a great time out, you're having sex and the condom breaks. Or maybe you just had sex without a condom because you were out of condoms, or just didn’t feel like using one. Or maybe you've been assaulted and you are worried that you might be pregnant from your assailant. None of these are great situations, but there is a solution; emergency contraceptive pills.
Emergency contraceptive pills are hormonal medications that contain Levonorgestrel. The most popularly known brand is Plan B, but there are a whole slew of other brands that contain Levonorgestrel and do the same job (My Way, Next Choice One Dose, Preventeza, and Take Action are a few). Plan B is often used to talk about emergency contraceptive pills in general, similarly to how Kleenex is used when talking about tissues and Chapstick is used when talking about lip balm. To keep this conversation from getting clunky, we’ll use Plan B to refer to emergency contraceptive pills in general.
Key differences between Plan B & abortion pills:
Abortion pills and Plan B (emergency contraceptive pills) are not the same. Plan B basically stops you from getting pregnant, whereas abortion pills terminate pregnancies in people who are already pregant. So, if you’re not pregnant, don’t want to get pregant, and had unprotected sex, Plan B is an option. If you’re already pregnant and don’t want to be, Plan B is not for you.
Another big difference is that Plan B can be purchased in drug stores. In the US, anyone of any age can buy it. Even though the box might even say that you have to be 17 or even 18 years old, that's currently not true. (There are still some old boxes out there.) Some people like to keep Plan B on hand just in case, but if not, you can always run down to the drug store or just order it online.
An abortion pill, on the other hand, requires a doctor's visit and a prescription. That’s because it’s a little bit more involved than Plan B. It’s a kind of pharmaceutical intervention.
Plan B as birth control:
Please note that Plan B is not a good or sustainable birth control option. Consider it your back-up plan, not your main method. You need a Plan A that works proactively, you suits your sex life, and protects you whatever you need protection from. (Also worth noting that Plan B can stop you from getting pregnant but it will not stop you from getting STIs.)
Side effects of taking Plan B:
Despite some of the myths floating around out there, Plan B can be used multiple times without significant negative side effects.
One fleeting side effect that many people report is nausea. While it’s not a pleasant experience, it’s fine that you feel nauseated after you take Plan B, as long as you don't throw up in the first two hours. If you do throw up within two hours, you may not have gotten enough of the medication into your system in order for it to work. If that happens to you, call your doctor or talk to the pharmacist about whether you should take another one immediately or what your options are. (I actually can't advise you on that. That's a medical problem.)
It’s common for your first cycle after Plan B to be different than what you’re used to. It might come sooner than normal, or later than normal. It might be heavier, or it might be lighter. Don’t worry if that happens. Your cycle should regulate again the cycle after.
If you find that your cycle is still out of whack the second time your period comes post- Plan B, you might want to check in with your doctor. (You can also ping us – we’re happy to chime in and see if we can help in any way.)
Does Plan B affect fertility?
A lot of women are concerned that taking Plan B might have a future impact on your fertility. A lot of times people don’t want to improve their fertility until they actually want to have a baby, and then sometimes they end up regretting doing things that could have impacted their fertility when they were younger. Luckily, Plan B is not something that should lead to regret.
There’s no indication that using Plan B a few times over the course of your reproductive has any impact on your overall fertility outcomes. (The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology agrees!)
If you have more questions about Plan B or your reproductive health, just reach out. We’re here to help and we’d love to hear from you.